«Italian Hours»: The Globalization of Cultural Property Law

Cultural property offers a significant yet ambiguous example of the development of global regulatory regimes beyond the State. On the one hand, traditional international law instruments do not seem to ensure an adequate level of protection for cultural heritage; securing such protection requires procedures, norms and standards produced by global institutions, both public (such as UNESCO) and private (such as the International Council of Museums (ICOM)). On the other hand, a comprehensive global regulatory regime to complement the law of cultural property is still to be achieved. Instead, more regimes are being established, depending on the kind of properties and on the public interest at stake, although the complex of cultural property regimes appears to operate largely in isolation. Moreover, the huge cultural bias which dominates the debate about cultural property can accentuate the «clash of civilizations» and the cultural bias that already underlie the debate about global governance.
The analysis of the relationship between globalization and cultural property allows us to shed light on broader global governance trends affecting areas such as the role of States in global regimes, the development of public-private partnerships, and the proliferation of global norms and procedures. Cultural property, however, keeps its specificity and peculiarities, and this helps highlight the points of weakness and of strength in the adoption of administrative law techniques at the global level.